A new study comparing training pet dogs with positive reinforcement (ie. treat rewards for good behaviors) versus negative reinforcement (ie. removing a negative consequence when the good behavior is performed) found that reward-based training is more enjoyable for the dog and positively enhances the relationship between the dog and owner. Dogs trained using negative reinforcement showed increased signs of stress and hunched body postures. Dogs trained with positive reinforcement methods showed increased attentiveness to their owners. The study results suggest that positive reinforcement based training is less stressful to dogs, potentially more beneficial for dogs’ welfare, and benefits the dog-owner relationship.
Training is an important aspect of raising a dog and should enhance the dog-owner bond. Finding the right trainer is the first step to success. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior’s How to Choose a Trainer handout (http://avsabonline.org/uploads/position_statements/How_to_Choose_a_Trainer_%28AVSAB%29.pdf ) offers excellent suggestions for pet parents to ensure that training is an enjoyable learning experience for their pet.